PATTERN ROBBERIES: UPDATE
Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 6:47am
Coordinated Response Continues To Be Top MPD Priority
The Madison Police Department continues to seek out and arrest criminals responsible for random "beat down" style robberies, and remains committed to sharing updated information with citizens.
MPD Crime Analysts have now identified more than 40 pattern robberies since April 1st. There have been 20 individuals who have either been arrested for these crimes, or who have had cases referred to the Dane County District Attorney's office. Many more possible suspects have been identified, and most are aware that they are on the MPD's collective radar.
Team leaders, charged with coordinating a citywide response to pattern robberies, are holding regular meetings: sharing information and proactive strategies. Members of the Fitchburg Police Department have been participating, and the MPD has recently invited Sun Prairie Police, and Middleton Police to join in future sessions.
In addition to the coordinated citywide response, each MPD district has a Community Police Team, and every team has been implementing robbery response plans. Strategies are multifaceted, and involve proactive policing techniques including surveillance and high-visibility foot and bike patrols.
Following one recent deployment of South District CPT bike officers, a woman wrote: "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I haven't ridden my bike for two weeks out of fear about recent attacks. I decided to ride the Cap City trail and saw 5 bike cops during my ride. What a wonderful surprise - thank you so much for patrolling the bike trails. I was very impressed."
Neighborhood, and patrol officers have also stepped up contacts with suspicious persons, and with citizens who are out walking alone. In some instances, teens are being cited for curfew violations, while in other contacts, CPT members and patrol officers are distributing robbery alert fliers to citizens and groups.
Chief Noble Wray believes efforts have had a stifling effect in some areas, as the number of "beat down" style robberies have dropped off significantly in recent weeks, particularly in the East and Central MPD Districts. Still, a concerning number of new crimes are taking place: an 80-year old man was beaten and robbed near Monroe Street last week, and a 63-year old man was mugged in Warner Park this week. There have also been a couple of recent robberies - matching this pattern - in the Allied Drive area.
Ironically, while there is an uptick in this type of robbery, overall robbery numbers (for the first 7 months of the year) are at a 6-year low, with the number reported in 2011 ( from January 1st to July 31st ) down 9.2% when compared with 2010 data.
One reason is commercial robberies. Convenience store, and other business holdups are down significantly, yet the perception is robberies are up. "And there is good reason for the perception," said Chief Noble Wray. "Random attacks against innocent people impact the quality of life for all of us. We cannot, and we will not, tolerate this type of criminal behavior."
Chief Wray emphasized the need for family members of law breakers to take more personal responsibility in curtailing criminal activities.
He also praised MPD officers for making a significant number of arrests in a short period of time as Madison combats this national trend.
- Joel DeSpain, 266-4897